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Barbara Stock, a dark-haired beauty from Illinois, was born in
1956 and spent many years within the confines of television as opposed
to the big screen. She remains perhaps one of the most underrated
actresses of modern times.
Stock would best be recalled for her work in the television series, Port
Charles, during the 1990s. She did, however, have other TV roles at
various intervals in Seinfeld, Twilight Zone,
Touched By An Angel and
more. She likewise appeared in a number of TV movies, one of which
merits her article here.
In 1982, Stock appeared in a TV movie called I, Desire, about a vampire
in modern times. If she, herself, remains one of the most
under-estimated actresses in TV history, this film likewise might rank
as one of the best, but also most ignored of horror classics.
David Naughton (The Sleeping Car, American Werewolf In London, etc...), plays
a young man who believes a series of killings are being done by a vampire. Police, however, headed by Darian Harewood, believe the murderer
is a psycho woman, posing as a prostitute and killing her johns. All
this time, Stock's vampire is masquerading as a hospital worker named
Mona, where she conveniently steals blood when she cannot find a
suitable pickup on the streets. Naughton goes after her and is joined by
a defrocked priest, played by Brad Dourif (best known as the voice of
Chuckie in the Child's Play series)
Stock's performance remains chillingly sensual, making her a cross
between a bloodsucker and one of the sirens from Greek myths. Her power
lies not within herself, but for an interesting twist, in the evil
within her victims. Those she kills on the streets have predominately
been married men, cheating on their wives. Thus, falling prey to their
own lust and folly, they end up punished for their sins at the fangs of
Desire, the vampire's real name.
The scene where Stock attempts to seduce Naughton before biting him
ranks among one of the best and again overlooked in the whole of horror
film. Luring him to her massive lair, she goes to slip into something a
little more comfortable, as her soon-to-be target awaits.
The lights go dim, one of the creepiest scores ever starts to play and
Desire appears at the top of the staircase, slowly walking, perhaps even
gliding downward. Shots of the heads of victim and potential killer
merge, creating a sequence Argento could have done no better (John
Moxley directed this movie).
Will Desire win out ? Of course she will. For once in a movie made for TV,
you're going to have a sad ending. And who could ever resist Stock, as shown
on the staircase? No straight person at least, right?
Well, fortunately for the world, Naughton's character shows amazing
resistance, announcing he does not lust for this embodiment of evil and claims
righteousness rather than a stake as his defense. In an especially
unanticipated ending, there is no cross, no holy water and no sunlight to
destroy this evil bitch. She simply lunges for him, but having lost her magic
powers, sails off a balcony and falls to her demise.
This film ranks among the very best, in this writer's opinion, as far as
vampireflicks go, be they for big or small screen. In this short article
Barbara Stock finally gets a little credit for a tremendous and creepy role
that has otherwise been denied her.
Should the film ever run again on TV someplace, be sure to check it out and if
you are a male viewer who really wants to test his character, ask this simple
question, "What would I have done," had you been at the bottom of
the staircase when Desire made her descent.